J. Myrle Henry was praised for his role in shaping the community’s history as he received a prestigious annual award.
Plant City Photo Archives and History Center Executive Director Gil Gott said the 74-year-old retired pharmacist had spent his lifetime helping the community. Gott reeled off accomplishment after accomplishment for Henry, ranging from founding the Strawberry Classic Car Show to his leadership in nonprofits that built apartments for the low-income elderly.
A sold-out crowd was on hand March 28 as Henry was presented with the nonprofit’s annual Heritage Award. Henry in turn praised his wife of 54 years, Tommie, his religion and friends for supporting his efforts over the years.
“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful heritage,” said Henry, a deacon at Plant City’s First Baptist Church.
The avid University of Florida fan later added as he accepted the award, “I’m a Floridian by birth and a Gator by the grace of God.”
Henry was born in Jacksonville and at 8 years old he moved to the Pinecrest area with his parents, Joseph Mason Henry and Ovieda Dossey Henry. Henry initially lived in a log cabin, with no electricity, plumbing or running water, although the family moved to the city by the time he celebrated his 9th birthday.
He was a 1956 honors graduate of Plant City High, and received a number of honors while he was at the University of Florida, where he obtained his bachelors in pharmacy degree in 1961.
Over the years, he owned three pharmacies, including downtown's last pharmacy, the Magnolia, which he closed in 2000. He retired as a pharmacist for Sweetbay.
Last year’s winner, Hillsborough Community College professor Maribeth Mobley, joined with Gott and archives founder Ed Verner in presenting the award, which goes to a person who has helped preserve the history of the area.
Other awards presented during the evening included longtime volunteers Lavone Dudley, who won the Bill Parolini Award for Meritorious Service and Maida Badcock Pou, who won the benevolence award. Verner also received a special award for founding the archives in 2000.